President Barack Obama recently presented a jobs program that requires taxpayers to put up $500 billion. He didn’t even prove that even a single job will be created, which is what happened with his stimulus program.
Let’s look at a market that has been ignored for years but likely can create thousands of jobs across the country.
When we hear the word cannabis, we think of marijuana, which is produced from the cannabis plant. However, this same plant has a soft, durable fiber called hemp. Hemp is one of the oldest known domesticated plants, dating back some 7,000 years. One of its first uses was for paper. Hemp is a source of food, clothing, shelter, fuel, paper, fiber, rope, medicine and other consumer goods. This multipurpose crop can put money into local economies.
There are two varieties of hemp. One is used to produce marijuana, a recreational and medicinal drug. The other commercial variety contains less of the drug found in marijuana. This plant has many useful properties that can benefit society and increase the harvest for farmers. It is environmentally friendly and requires fewer pesticides than cotton, the price of which has risen 40 percent.
Hemp is a fast-growing biomass that can be used for fuel. Presently, we are using corn to produce ethanol, which is blended with oil to produce gasoline. Because corn crops are being diverted from the food chain, the crop is not as available as it should be for food, leading to higher grocery costs and food shortages. Biofuels can be made from the oils in hemp seeds and stalks. Biodiesel produced from hemp burns clean and is nontoxic — something we need for clean air. Filtered hemp oil can be used to power diesel engines without requiring an oil blend.
Hemp is an effective method of weed control in farming. It minimizes weed seeds, helping farmers avoid herbicides. With the elimination of herbicides, crops would be organic.
Hemp also can be used to clean impurities from wastewater. In fact, it is being used to clean contaminants at Chernobyl, according to www.nugmag.com.
A cotton crop is produced only once a year, but two crops of hemp can be harvested in a year from the same field. Clothes can be produced from hemp, which has the texture of linen. Like cotton, hemp breathes and is warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. It also is organic and natural. The crop is chemical- and pesticide-free, lasting four times longer than cotton.
Hempcrete is a building material composed of hemp and lime. It’s used as an insulating material along with brick, wood or a steel frame. By mixing hemp, fiberglass, kenaf and flax, a composite material can be made at a low cost for car manufacturing.
China is the largest producer of industrial hemp in Asia, while France leads European production. Because of the narrow-minded thinking of Congress, it is not legal to grow hemp in the United States because it is related to marijuana and considered a controlled substance. Some states — not Georgia — have made the cultivation of industrial hemp legal, but have not begun to grow hemp because the Drug Enforcement Administration still considers hemp illegal.
It is time that Congress revisit laws that affect hemp. It is probably the most versatile, natural resource on Earth, and its production would create thousands of jobs and give the economy a much-needed boost.
Calderone is a conservative who lives in Midway. He is a professional salesperson and for 30 years has written articles for trade publications in various fields.